- Posted April 4, 2012 by
Tulsa's renaming of North Cincinnati Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard delayed by sign costs
Councilor Jack Henderson had hoped the renaming of a portion of North Cincinnati Avenue as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would be done by Monday's holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.
But the estimated $100,000 cost of changing out all of the signs has delayed the project since the City Council's approval last summer.
"We wanted to get it accomplished in time for the parade and all of the events on Monday," said Henderson, who spearheaded the effort. "It's taken a lot longer than anyone expected."
Traffic Operations Manager Mark Brown said that when the ordinance renaming the street was voted on by the council last June, it was essentially an unfunded mandate.
"We didn't budget for this at all," he said.
The name change affects Cincinnati Avenue from Archer Street to the city limits at 65th Place North.
The project involves installing 65 new side-street signs, 10 signalized intersection mast-arm signs and eight highway signs on the inner dispersal loop at a projected cost of $100,000, senior traffic engineer Doug Duke said.
Brown said he can't afford take it out of the fiscal year's $371,637 sign budget because the city can barely keep up with the maintenance needed on its thousands of street signs. Capital funding is needed, he said.
"This really ground to a halt when we looked at the stark reality of the costs involved," he said.
But Henderson said he's been working with the Finance Department to identify some one-time money that can be used. A budget amendment allocating funding to the project should be coming to the council in the near future.
"I'm disappointed it's not done already, but I'm confident we're going to get it done very soon," he said.
Henderson called it a "worthy investment."
"We need something in the community that will give us a source of pride," he said. "Dr. King has boulevards, streets and avenues in cities across America.
"Tulsa's hasn't seen fit to do it yet. But the timing is right. The climate is right."
Henderson said he thinks the renaming will spur economic development along that north Tulsa corridor.
A community committee researched the idea and sought approval from property owners along that stretch of Cincinnati Avenue, since it will involve formal address changes for them.
"We did a sample poll of businesses and residents and met with no resistance whatsoever," he said.
Several years ago, when Henderson was a leader with the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, he proposed the street's renaming to the city, but it was for a longer stretch of Cincinnati Avenue and cut into downtown.
That caused an uproar over the address issue, he said.
Henderson said he now believes Archer Street is the best starting point for the boulevard because it will be north Tulsa's gateway to downtown.
"It's going to be a very positive step, and there's so many people who want to see it happen," he said.